In version 39, Chrome for Android learned an awesome trick: using a simple HTML tag, any webpage could tell Chrome to theme its UI (and your device's status bar) with a specified color. The downside to this feature was that it only worked if tabs and apps were "merged," meaning your Chrome tabs would show up inline with your recent apps, rather than relying on Chrome's own in-app tab switcher.
Today, a Chrome for Android developer at Google let Reddit know that the theme-color attribute will soon make Chrome snazzy even if you don't have tabs and apps merged. Right now the flag (chrome://flags/#enable-theme-color-in-tabbed-mode) will only work in Chrome Dev 47.0.2516.0 (available from the Play Store or APK Mirror), and support isn't complete yet - the flag won't allow Chrome to theme your status bar and swiping across the toolbar to switch tabs is a little glitchy, for instance.
With the official stable release of Android Studio v1.3 a couple of weeks ago, it's time to begin testing the next string of new features. The first preview release of version 1.4 is now in the Canary channel, and it's sporting some big new features. The Android Tools team has been working on the new theme editor first demonstrated in the I/O session titled What's New in Android Development Tools. There are also new performance monitors for GPU and network activity, a vector asset wizard for turning SVG files into XML vector drawables, and a few new lint checks.
Here is the Google I/O session video cued up to the beginning of the theme editor demo at 36 minutes:
The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface.
Last week, there was a kerfuffle online about a couple of themes developed by an XDA member for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge that aimed to bring a more authentic Material look to Samsung's devices. Said themes were approved then suspended by the company, supposedly because of copyright infringements over the wallpaper and icons, but the developer fixed those issues and has resubmitted them.
In the meantime, another Material theme was approved and went live today in the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge's Theme Store.
At one time in history, building an app that gave a consistent experience across all (or most) versions of Android was nearly impossible without dedicating a lot of time and effort. Thanks to the Android Support Library (a.k.a. AppCompat), it's easy to use some of the most important and commonplace user interface elements on versions of Android going as far back as Donut and Éclair. A fresh update for AppCompat was just released, bringing it to v22.1, and it introduces some really big changes. The ActionBarActivity has been deprecated for a new AppCompatActivity class, several new features from Lollipop were ported back to the Support V4, and some big improvements were made for Leanback, Palette, RecyclerView, and Renderscript.
Sony's recent Xperia phones and tablets have included themable skins for the proprietary Sony UI that runs on top of Android. Now Sony wants you (yes, you!) to make themes for its devices using a custom Java desktop program. The company has released a beta version of the application for aspiring theme makers, available from the Sony Developer site.
The program allows you to apply different colors and graphical elements to the various bits and pieces of Sony's themes. It's basically a streamlined setup process - anyone who's made themes for the CyanogenMod engine or a custom Android launcher will feel pretty comfortable.
The Team Win Recovery Project is a great custom recovery, but it isn't pretty. Back in the Ice Cream Sandwich days, it kind of blended in. Nowadays, it's just that outdated screen you largely don't care about while you flash .zips.
But what if TWRP could look just as sleek as the rest of Android 5.0? Thanks to the work of XDA developer z31s1g, it can get close. He has released a Materialized TWRP theme that changes the appearance of every screen, including when you're wiping partitions or running scripts. It comes in either a light or dark variant, and you can choose any of 15 colors.
With Android Lollipop, Google gave the keyboard its biggest visual refresh since the release of Honeycomb. If you like the look but don't particulary care to use the default input method, you have to wait for third-party keyboards to jump on board themselves. SwiftKey already introduced a couple Material Design-inspired themes in the past, but now it's back with five more.
In the newest theme pack, you get three new colors to work with: Material Orange, Material Phosphor Green, and Material Pink.
You also get minimal versions of Material Dark and Material Light. These look more like the standard Lollipop keyboard, as they lack the key boundaries that SwiftKey has added to its themes.
For a while now, we've been aware of an unreleased keyboard theme, shown off in screenshots of Google Chrome on the Play Store. Today, the Android 5.0 Lollipop developer preview brought us Google Keyboard 4.0 that carries both the Material Light and Dark themes. There's really not much to say about the themes that can't be communicated in images - they are similar to the keyboard included in the original dev preview, but now there's a light theme.
Additionally, the keyboard now supports more layouts, including QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, and PC.
Thanks, Chad Gauthier!
Just like with the new Google Search, you'll need to be rooted to get the keyboard working (until the official update is ready, anyway).
We always talk about the customizability of Android, but most of us never really put it to the test. Sure, we might change the theme on our keyboards or replace some homescreen icons, but when is the last time you changed your system font? If you're running CyanogenMod and feel like trying something a little different, treat your eyes to any of the six brand new fonts that have been packaged up for use in the CM Theme Engine.
One of the nicest things about CyanogenMod (from a cosmetic perspective, anyway) is support for hundreds and hundreds of community-baked themes on the Play Store and elsewhere. As opposed to a launcher theme or icon set, these themes are system-wide, and they can completely change the look of your phone or tablet in a few seconds. Custom ROMs often bake in a compatible theme system (see AOKP), and now the popular Paranoid Android family has done so as well.